Trade union urges Irish businesses to boycott Israeli goods

‘We do not engage in national or international political affairs,’ says Smyths

Protesters hold up placards reading ‘Boycott Israel’ during a demonstration showing solidarity with Palestinians in Paris, France. A number of Irish businesses have publicly announced their decision to boycott Israeli goods. Photograph: Christophe Karaba/EPA

Protesters hold up placards reading ‘Boycott Israel’ during a demonstration showing solidarity with Palestinians in Paris, France. A number of Irish businesses have publicly announced their decision to boycott Israeli goods. Photograph: Christophe Karaba/EPA

 

Irish trade union Mandate has released a petition calling on Irish food retailers to cease selling Israeli produce.

The Mandate petition, entitled ‘Stop Selling Israeli Produce’, has already attracted over 6,300 signatures since it was launched last Friday. It asks customers to sign a statement calling on Aldi, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Supervalu, Tesco, and others to stop sourcing products from Israel, which it says continues “to flagrantly breach international law and commit war crimes against the Palestinian people”.

The petition follows a call from Mandate to more than 20 companies in Ireland asking management to “desist from trading, investment, or other commercial links with companies operating in providing services to, or sourcing goods from settlements in the region of Israel”.

David Gibney from the trade union said only two companies have responded so far - Brown Thomas and Shaws Department Stores. Both organisations say they are unsure whether they have Israeli produced goods on sale, while Brown Thomas committed to carrying out a stock take to be “completely sure”.

Meanwhile, a number of businesses around Ireland have publicly announced a boycott of Israeli goods. Community members in Kinvara, Co Galway, have united to boycott all Israeli goods including fruit, vegetables, herbs, cosmetics, toys and Stanley tool boxes.

In Dublin, the Yard Florist in Clontarf announced on its Facebook page its decision to boycott Israeli flowers and greenery. “It is incredibly easy for us to do this and will not affect the quality or productivity of our business in any way so hopefully others will take this very easy step and do the same,” wrote the north-Dublin based florist on Sunday.

The Exchquer gastropub also posted on Facebook last week its decision to boycott all Israeli goods, calling recent events in Gaza “a war crime, it is a crime against humanity, it is evil at its worst”. The central-Dublin pub and its partner, the Exchequer Wine Bar in Ranelagh, asked customers to join them in the boycott, adding that “civilians DO have a voice, we just have to use it”.

Freda Hughes from Ireland Palestine Solidarity Protest says implementing sanctions and boycotting goods is “an obviously peaceful tactic”.

“It’s a way that individuals and businesses can use their power as people to actually make a stand and we hope it won’t just be individuals who refuse to buy but also workers who refuse to handle.”

On Sunday, staff at Smyths toy store on Jervis Street in Dublin were told to remove a sign on the door informing members of the public they had removed products made in Israel from their shelves.

The printed sign was posted on the front door of the shop on Sunday where it was quickly photographed and circulated on social media.

A montage incorporating the sign was posted by the Israeli embassy in Ireland (@IsraelinIreland) Twitter account with the added words: ‘So what’s next? No dogs or Jews allowed?’

Smyths later announced the company does “not engage in national or international political affairs”. It reported one of the company stores had removed “products from one country” from its shelves last week but that the decision had now been revered.

“Our customers should be free to make their own decisions,” added the statement from the Irish toy store.

When asked about the decision by some Irish businesses to boycott Israeli goods, the Israeli embassy in Dublin responded that the embassy “still does not comment to the Irish Times”.